Silver Provides Lower Manhattan Economic Recovery Update
Cites Progress At Seven WTC And Church Street Corridor While Estimating That Rebuilding Setbacks Have Resulted In Lost Economic Activity Totaling Tens Of Billions Of Dollars
Issues Report Demonstrating Need For Additional Lower Manhattan Office Space
Calls For Expanded Business Tax Incentives
Addressing the Association for a Better New York, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today offered an updated assessment of efforts to rebuild the Lower Manhattan economy more than five years after the September 11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, killed thousands of innocent people and devastated the surrounding community.
"Over the past several months, there has been progress," said Silver. "At the same time, the city and state can not lose sight of the moral and financial obligation we have to rebuilding the Lower Manhattan community where I have lived all my life. Redevelopment of Lower Manhattan must be New York City's economic development priority. We simply cannot afford to abandon our commitment or allow the delays and diversions to continue."
Silver cited Assembly research that concludes that the numerous construction delays and setbacks associated with rebuilding of commercial space in Lower Manhattan have resulted in economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars.
"Clearly delays come with a cost - not the least of which is the loss of public trust," said Silver.
As part of his presentation, Silver also issued an economic report, The Lower Manhattan Recovery, which provides detailed information regarding the overall Lower Manhattan economy and concludes that the area's continuing economic conditions demonstrate a need for additional office space in Lower Manhattan.
"Good things are happening in Lower Manhattan," said Silver. "Incentives contained in the Marshall Plan I first called for in May of last year have been successful. The incentives that were put in place have contributed significantly to the resurgence of Lower Manhattan's economy. According to a report released by the firm of Jones Lang LaSalle, the programs have had 'a substantial impact on the bottom line of companies that relocate to Lower Manhattan'."
Silver also cited design progress that will lead to construction of the Church Street Corridor that he has identified as a top priority in stabilizing the surrounding community and reassuring existing retail and commercial firms that remain in Lower Manhattan.
"The Church Street Corridor plans include more than a half-million feet of retail space - 20 percent more than had existed prior to September 11. In addition," noted Silver, "more than half of the planned retail space is to be above grade - ensuring that Downtown will remain an attractive, 24-hour-a day, residential and business community. I am encouraged by the apparent progress on this plan, but we must stay on top of the timetables to ensure that there are no more delays."
While noting some rebuilding advances, including the construction of Seven World Trade Center, the planned Beekman Street School and commitments to Lower Manhattan by numerous world-class businesses that will "secure Downtown's position as the financial capital of the world," Silver also continued his criticism of the slow pace and false starts that have stifled progress in the overall rebuilding effort.
Silver pointed to delays and budgeting problems associated with the deconstruction of Deutsche Bank and Fiterman Hall, the Fulton Street Transit Project, the South Ferry Terminal and the Lower Manhattan wireless redundancy system. He also expressed frustration at the fact that the Chinatown/Lower Manhattan Empire Zone has "not designated a single Empire Zone business or provided a single benefit."
"The disarray, bickering and finger-pointing must come to an end. We must set our minds and our actions to changing our course and complete the job of rebuilding. We must rededicate ourselves to policies that will continue to encourage economic investment in Lower Manhattan," said Silver, who noted that Lower Manhattan still has 47,000 fewer jobs now than in August of 2001.
Expanded Lower Manhattan Economic Incentive Program
In an effort to spur continued economic growth in the area, Silver called for expanded financial incentives that would:
Addressing Growing Health Concerns
In addition, Silver addressed rising health concerns among September 11 first responders, local residents and students who were assured by the federal Environmental Protection Agency "that the air they were breathing following the collapse of the towers was safe."
"The utter failure of the EPA, combined with the fact that September 11 was an attack on America, not the individual New Yorker's dealing with health concerns they could have never imagined, should compel the federal government to take responsibility for the rising costs associated with the screening, tracking, diagnosis and treatment of individuals who may be afflicted with illnesses that result from their time spent at and around Ground Zero.
"Emergency personnel, workers and my Lower Manhattan community were provided with numerous assurances by the federal government that there was no environmental danger associated with living and working in Ground Zero areas in days and weeks following September 11. We now know that those assurances were wrong and the federal government needs to step up and accept the financial responsibility for their deception."
Silver called for a streamlined Medicaid application process to promote a more efficient delivery of health-care services to those exposed to the post-September 11 environment in Lower Manhattan.
Silver also pledged to continue to assist the police, fire and emergency personnel who served at Ground Zero and who are now facing considerable health issues. In addition, Silver called for the screening of Lower Manhattan residents and students to determine the scope of the area's health crisis.
"I believe the city's program to address World Trade Center-related illness is a good start," Silver said, who called for the expansion of the number of hospitals providing services, including New York Downtown Hospital. "At the same time, I call upon the city to establish a public outreach and education program so that we can screen as many potential victims as possible and provide the medical community with the best and most up-to-date information to help with the diagnosis and treatment of their affected patients."
Investing In Transportation Infrastructure
Silver also stressed the need to move forward on transportation infrastructure projects in order for the region to grow and prosper.
"We must maintain the MTA's commitment to the Second Avenue Subway, the Long Island Railroad eastside access to Grand Central Station and direct Downtown access from JFK and Long Island," said Silver. "We must also protect the capital plan that announces and funds those priorities. If the city believes that the extension of the Number Seven subway to 34th Street is a priority, it should make it clear that no diversions of MTA resources to that extension will be required and that no additional MTA burden is a surprise to be revealed later."
He also reiterated his support for the redevelopment of the Farley building as Moynihan Station in order to provide a much-needed enhancement to transportation in the region.
Click here to view the report.
Click here to view Speaker Silver's remarks.
New York State Assembly
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